Posted in 2019, Fiction, LGBTQ, Romance, young adult

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour was one of the E-books available at the library for Pride month.

I’d rate this book 2 out of 5. I would have given it a 3 but it was missing something. I enjoyed it while I was reading it but it’s nothing memorable.

The premise is that Emi, our narrator, and Charlotte, her best friend, discover a letter in a record they bought at an estate sale from a famous movie cowboy, Clyde (forgot his last name. I was so over it by the end). Clyde wrote this letter to her daughter whom no one knew he had. He died a single, fatherless man according to the news. Emi and her brother were obsessed with Clyde so this became an immediate obsession. Emi and Charlotte spend the beginning of the book trying to locate the daughter. They eventually find his granddaughter, Ava, and become friends.

I’m going to split this review into two parts: what worked, what didn’t.

What Worked
From the very beginning, we discover that Emi, is an openly out lesbian who is in the middle of a break-up from an on-again-off-again relationship. Therefore, we can conclude that this won’t be your typical coming out of the closet story (those get old after a while).

The setting was set in Los Angeles, therefore making the Hollywood fantasy seem romantic and possible. Emi’s passion for the sets and the details really added to it. Her very accepting parents were also a nice touch.

Making this into a mystery novel instead of a typical romance novel really helped grab the attention in the beginning. I liked that towards the end, it became more about Ava solving the mystery of her past instead of it being about Emi finding Ava. It felt very Gatsby-esque (where the narrator is not really the protagonist).

What Didn’t
Let’s talk about Morgan. Morgan is Emi’s ex-girlfriend. Including her in the picture was fun in the beginning but had a boring follow through. Morgan has a history of dumping Emi constantly because she wants a little more freedom and doesn’t want to feel tied down. The story starts with it being their 6th break-up. Although I’m not into toxic relationships, it does cause some tension in the story. The first few chapters are about Emi trying to forget about Morgan but still missing her. Wishing that Morgan would just beg for her back. Wanting to talk to her but knowing it’s a bad idea. That’s all great for drama.

However, for someone who speaks beautifully about detail, Emi doesn’t spend to much time really painting the picture of why she loved Morgan. Morgan is just a fact. There were a few attempts to show why they were so good together, but Emi was so stuck in her head that I don’t think the relationship was ever really serious. I feel like Emi was so wrapped up in her fantasy world that it’s no wonder Morgan was able to keep dumping her and getting her back. More on that later.

Charlotte acted as a perfect best friend. She hated Morgan, as she should. And warned Emi about falling in love with Ava (which, given Emi’s obsession with fantasy, is smart!). I wish we got to know more about her. She was more of a prop than a person. Charlotte is a confident, well-organized, intelligent, determined girl and yet, the most interesting characteristic LaCour gave her was that she was in love with Emi’s brother. They barely touched on it though, and given that Emi was totally fine with it, it didn’t add to the story at all. It just gave Charlotte something to do. Something to feel since she was sounding rather robotic on how perfect she was. Then again, we are living in Emi’s mind. The bad thing about 1st person point of view is that we don’t get the best of everyone.

Let’s come back to Emi’s fantasy world. I did not like the love interest at all! I liked Ava as a love interest, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like Emi was more obsessed over the detail that Ava happened to be her favorite’s celebrity’s granddaughter. If you remove that, Emi wouldn’t have cared so much. Yes, Ava was beautiful. Yes, Ava was gay. Yes, they had chemistry. Still, so many comments were made about the fascination Emi had about Ava’s past…not Ava herself.

The pacing of the romance was too fast. Emi’s quick to obsession process really eliminated the possibility of us falling in love with them falling in love. As I mentioned before, Emi is really good at describing a set but really bad at describing love.

Conclusion
Not sure if I’d recommend it. On the one hand, it’s refreshing to treat a lesbian love story as normal as any heterosexual love story. Yes, there was a moment where the characters had to come out to each other but it wasn’t a big deal. There wasn’t this secrecy. The issue was that they weren’t sure if the other person felt the same way. Or that neither felt good enough for the other. There wasn’t this whole “what if she finds out I’m gay and she hates me?” monologue. Or the “I can’t like women” denial story.

On the other hand, it’s a pretty pointless story. Come to think of it, most mystery novels are pointless.

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Okay, I guess if you’re into YA, it wouldn’t be a terrible read. There are some fun parts and I don’t have any regrets reading it.

 

Posted in 2018, Becky Albertalli, Fiction, LGBTQ, young adult

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

I read this book because I was discovering the books of Becky Albertalli. This book is somewhat a spinoff of Simon Vs The Homesapiens Agenda. Only not really. It’s about the cousins of Abby. Simon and Abby do make an appearance in this book but its not about them at all.

In this book, our protagonist (Abby’s cousin) Molly is learning about falling in love. Sounds yucky, I know, but really, it’s funny. She’s used to just crushing on people and never really any real opportunity for love, but once her sister Cassie starts dating this girl seriously (Cassie is known to be player), she starts feeling more left out and starts searching for the company of others (#NoMoreSafetyBlanket).

This book is written in 1st person point of view. For someone who’s lonely, Molly is very nice and upbeat (unlike Leah. Leah, I feel, is like her negative energy counterpart. Interestingly enough, Leah sounded a lot like Molly in her book rather than sounding like Leah from Simon and the Homosapien’s Agenda. That sentence only makes sense if you’re read all three of Albertalli’s books).

I’d recommend this as a fun read if you just want to read something cute. However, it has very little to do with Simon (as mentioned earlier) so if that’s the reason you’re reading it, you will be disappointed. I was able to finish this book in a day so it’s not a hard read whatsoever.

I will say this, Molly has done such a great job being a people pleaser, that we don’t get to know too much about her. I feel like I knew more about Cassie than I did about Molly.

There weren’t any memorable quotes but here are some passages I liked:

I don’t entirely understand how anyone gets a boyfriend. Or a girlfriend. It just seems like the most impossible odds. You have a crush on the exact right person at the exact right moment. And they have to like you back. A perfect alignment of feelings and circumstances. It’s almost unfathomable that it happens as often as it does.

There was a book I read a few years ago called Human by Matt Haig where he stated how improbable it is for two people to meet, let alone connect. That stuck with me and it’s great to read a story where someone questions it.

The silence is a little painful. It’s funny, because you always think the hard part is meeting someone the first time. It’s not. It’s the second time, because you’ve already used up all the obvious topics of conversation. And even if you haven’t, it’s strange and heavy-handed to introduce random conversational topics at this stage in the game.

One of the things I hate about “just be yourself” is that I am many different versions of me. It’s not a lie, it’s adaptation. Which version should I be? What if one version is more interesting than the other. What if one of my versions is too snobish for someone. So yes, although I am one of the few people who want to be more than just internet friends, I am always nervous that I can’t keep up.

I’m not trying to overthink things. I’m trying to be less careful. But you have to be your heart’s own goalie.
And if I’m going to be rejected, I want to see it coming.

The sad thing is that if it got to this far of the tought process, chances are, you already rejected yourself. You’re not a goalie, you’re a future teller.

Maybe my company is even better than making out–which is pretty much my goal as a human being, honestly.

This was just hilarious. Back story on this quote, her twin sister was hanging out with her girlfriend for Independence Day event. Our protagonist kept trying to give them space but they kept following her including her in all the activities. They sacrificed their “together time” to hang out with Molly.

Image taken from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30653853-the-upside-of-unrequited

 

 

Posted in 2018, Fiction, LGBTQ, young adult

Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan

This was awful. I, at first, really liked our protagonist Leila because…what’s not to love? Persian closetted lesbian who hates working out and is constantly feeling disappointed with the fact that she will never be better than her older sister. All traits of an interesting character.

Then we meet the possible love interest whom we don’t really get to spend time with knowing because we are too busy being in Leila’s fantasy world whenever she is around her.

Tess, Lisa, Greg and the tech crew were far more interesting than the love interest. But because she was so infatuated with Saskia (the love interest) we don’t really get to know more about them other than surface identities. But that whole fantasy fiasco ends as quickly as it started and it just feels like a bad soap opera that is trying too hard to be dramatic. I wish there was more substance to the story…to the main character.

It just all felt…fake (and yes I know its fiction). It felt like a dream where you lose track of time but the story still keeps going and dragging you along with it. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t really boring….but it also wasn’t impactful.

Oh! And the ending is so abrupt! That was perhaps the most painful part (I actually screenshot it and texted my friend texting “what the fuck”.) I mean, if you want to be cheesy….then own it. No shame in cheesy endings but…abrupt endings? Now unless there is a sequel (or spinoff…preferably in Lisa’s perspective) to this, I feel robbed of a world.

We were barely getting to know the real Leila…the Leila not hidden from the world or the fear of her parents lack of undestanding and we get absolutely nowhere with that freedom. I mean come on! There aren’t that many stories with Middle Easters lesbians and we only got a glimpse of it. Nothing new (except the language) that I haven’t read from other religious characters realizing they are gay.

It wasn’t all bad though. I liked how the author kept slightly foreshadowing the ending so when it gets to it, it’s a sigh of relief. It’s cute (butterfly in stomach, blushing kind of cute). But it’s really not worth the read. She just spent her attention in all the wrong places. But maybe that’s the point. I know when I was a teenager I focused on all the wrong things. Which if that was the point to the story, then this book is actually brilliant! I, personally, just wanted more out of her already interesting characters.  She paints a picture but never finishes is. If this were a movie, it would be great! Straight to the point and everything. But as a novel, we (well, the author anyway) have more freedom to tap into more lives.  But maybe she didn’t want to overcomplicate things.

Either way, probably wouldn’t recommend this one. Then again, I’m not the targetted audience. I feel like the targetted audience spans from 13-16 year olds.

Posted in LGBTQ

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

I read this book because it was this month’s reading in one of my bookclubs. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it but this was a fun read. It was simple. The characters were lovable. The love interests didn’t feel forced. It was a fast read too. Mostly dialogue and train of thoughts. Nothing major.

This book has two different multiple character points of view while they experience the wonders of SupaCon.

The first character, Taylor, is a blogger. She is autistic. Being in her mind is quite interesting and we get to see her grow confident within the story. I really liked how she explained how her mind works.

Our second character, Charlie, started out as a YouTube star who is now promoting her first movie. She is bisexual and we see her struggle trying to recover from her cheating ex-boyfriend while trying to find new love in one of her YouTube idols.

The storyline had no real meaning other than stop worrying what everyone else thinks of you. I would recommend this story if you want to read something that doesn’t make you think too much. It’s not a romance novel, it’s a learning coming to terms with yourself novel…that happens to have romance in it. It does have LGBT characters so if you are not okay with that, don’t bother picking it up.

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Favorite Quotes 
(might contain spoilers)

“Anxiety isn’t an attack that explodes out of me; it’s not a volcano that lies dormant until it’s triggered by an earth-shattering event. It’s a constant companion. Like a blowfly that gets into the house in the middle of summer, flying around and around. you can hear it buzzing, but you can’t see it, can’t capture it, can’t let it out. My anxiety is invisible to others, but often it’s the focal point of my mind. Everything that happens on a day-to-day basis is filtered through a lens colored by anxiety. That nervousness that makes your palms sweat and your heart race before you get up and make a speech in front of an audience? That’s what I feel in a normal conversation at a dinner table. Or just thinking about having a conversation at a dinner table. “
That’s a really long quote, I know. I just like how descriptive it is. If you’ve ever suffered from anxiety, this is pretty much accurate. The simple step feels like a mountain to climb for someone with anxiety. It’s irritating. It’s hard to control. It ruins a lot of events. Even if you try to push the thought aside, your body will react. You can’t really escape it. It’ll form, one way or another. If it’s really bad, it can be paralyzing. If it’s not, then deep breaths might help. Forming relationships when you have anxiety is a challenge. So it’s really cool to read that Taylor has two best friends who don’t judge her.

8e146a0d-841e-47f2-b745-9b1e4f2fc6d3-c2c6fc9d-a9ca-4363-8ef0-ed51522b6d12-v1“Everything feels like I’m on stage, spotlight on me, all eyes on me, watching, judging. Like I’m one second away from total disaster. It’s invisible, it’s irrational, it’s never-ending. I could be standing there, smiling and chatting like everything is totally fine, while secretly wanting to scream and cry and run away. No one would ever know. In my mind,no one can hear me scream. I hide it because I know it’s not understood or acceptable–because I’m not understood or acceptable.”
This is just another awesome quote about living with anxiety. I’m kind of obsessed with mental disorders.

e03b8e0f-a5ea-4e06-a739-aaf8e3b69e46-c2c6fc9d-a9ca-4363-8ef0-ed51522b6d12-v1“I’m sure she’s flirting with me. At least, I hope she is. It excites and terrifies me all at the same time. I love everything about crushes. The butterflies, the possibilities, the giddy wonder of it all.”
One thing you might now figure about me is that I’m a hopeless romantic. As a hopeless romantic, I like books where love works. It’s strange because I don’t really like romantic novels. I don’t like romance novels because the conflict is the love. I love books like this one, where there is romance but it is not about the romance. Then I get to enjoy the romance aspect of it without rolling my eyes after every time a character “wishes” they can be with someone whom we all know they will end up with anyway. Optimism in a doomed world is nice to read every now and then. It’s no surprise that I found myself smiling after reading this. (Might have been blushing a little…just a little….don’t tell anyone)

aa6607d6-7ab6-4a5a-80d0-ceba370bf3f0-c2c6fc9d-a9ca-4363-8ef0-ed51522b6d12-v1“Sometimes it feels like I’m allergic to the world, like I’m allergic to my own species. Being here, it’s an assault on my senses.”
I found that hilarious. I’m not laughing at the fact that people actually feel this way. I’m laughing because I feel our species is an assault to our senses. We make no sense. We are disagreeable about any important issue.

“I felt like my whole future was dependent on it, and now I’m lost.”
I like this quote because it’s extremely relatable. I have done the error of placing an event on a pedestal. Of making something seem more important than it is. Why? Because it’s easy. It makes more sense than being introspective and continually work on yourself. So we place these moments as milestones of growth, or success. The downside is that if it’s disappointing, we crash hard. It will affect our esteem and our plans. So I understand why Taylor felt lost. She made meeting her idol her medicine if you will. The fixer-uppper. The “if I can do this, everything will be okay.” Accepting life on life’s term is the hardest thing to do and having these little goals help us feel a little more in control.

“You can’t pick and choose whose equality you support. That’s not equality.”
I just feel like this should be a bumper sticker.

“When making friends is the hardest thing in the world for you, you don’t risk it all by telling one of them that you’re in love with him.”
It’s just devastating to be in a position where you have to choose. Where you feel like expressing yourself will ruin everything. It makes you feel invaluable. Or that you don’t deserve love. You’re already hard to tolerate and on top of that you want to mix feeling with it and how dare you make things complicated and put people in an uncomfortable position. It’s  best to just keep your mouth shut and let everyone be happy with the ways things are. But you’re not happy….but what makes you important? What gives you the right to ask someone to love you? They don’t owe you anything, they’re already doing more than enough by just being your friend. (This may or may not be a conversation I have with myself from time to time.)

The following are just more awesome quotes on anxiety, self-esteem and love:
“We’re the ones who get up and face our worst fears every day. We keep fighting.”

“Things that most people consider to be normal, daily parts of life are the very things we fear and struggle with the most, and yet here we are, moving forward anyway. That’s not weak.”

“No. It’s not pathetic. I can relate. My ex-girlfriend wasn’t a movie star, but to me she was…everything. Everyone wanted to be with her, too. But she chose me. I didn’t like myself much back then, and having her look at me the way she did made me feel like I was worth something.”

“I didn’t see how much of my self-worth had been tied into that relationship until it was over. The hardest part wasn’t  leaving her behind; it was feeling like I’d left pieces of myself behind. The only pieces I liked.” (raise your hand if you can relate)

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“Love is intense. You break down all your walls to let someone in. But if they’re not good for you, they can tear you up from the inside. And you think what you have together is love, so you let them.”

 

(Featured image was taken from https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28245707-queens-of-geek)